GPL issues (Re: sources for Knoppix 4.02)
On Mon, Jul 03, 2006 at 05:54:58PM +0100, Sebastian Rahtz wrote:
> Last autumn I did a remastering of Knoppix 4.02. With the recent
> fuss over Mepis,
First of all: I believe that the FSF, or rather, their representative,
was not going to do Free Software developers and distributors a favour
with the somewhat "too short" explanation they approved as "official
opinion of the FSF" for the MEPIS project. It looked like they are
attacking their friends, which their representative surely didn't mean
to do. The intention is clearly to make sure that there is ALWAYS a
possibility for software recipients to also receive the complete source
of GPL'ed programs, if not on the same medium, then on demand from the
same site, or on request from the distributor. That's the short summary.
The longer story is, there are several options in the GPL for
distributing the source:
3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1
and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost
of physically performing source distribution, a complete
machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
customarily used for software interchange; or,
c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to
distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed
only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the
program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in
accord with Subsection b above.)
I use option 3b), which is absolutely sufficient. You do NOT have to
create a public mirror of the complete source, for each single and
probably very obsolete package.
Option c), btw., IMHO kind of violates the "Open Source
Non-Discrimination" rule, which could be food for a discussion if the
GPL is really an Open Source license, in legal terms, after all. But
that's a different story. ;-)
> I realise I was been remiss in not archiving
> a copy of the source of all my packages on my CD to
> pass on to anyone who asks for source, so I
> am attempting to recover the situation now.
> Bu judicious juggling with my apt sources.list, I can
> do an
> apt-get source
> on almost everything, with the following exceptions:
"kanotix"? Are you sure? I wasn't aware that this is on the 4.0.2 DVD,
but anyways, you already got the source. That package, like most of
Knoppix' own packages, consists of plaintext files and shellscripts,
which are THE source.
Another shellscript. Should be available at http://debian-knoppix.alioth.debian.org/ .
For packages not in Debian anymore, try snapshot.debian.net (see below).
Genuine OpenOffice.Org source. Download from any OpenOffice.Org mirror. :-)
All "source included" scripts, but they should also be available at
deb http://snapshot.debian.net/archive pool ttf-openoffice
deb-src http://snapshot.debian.net/archive pool ttf-openoffice
They are on the DVD in /usr/src/modules. I have not found a convenient
way to upload them as source packages to
debian-knoppix.alioth.debian.org yet, so I'll just leave them on the DVD
version until space runs out.
Try snapshot.debian.net, again.
> Is there anyone else on this list who has
> a complete source archive for Knoppix 4
> and can pass me the missing packages?
Me, since I have to keep a copy for complying to GPL §3b. So, if you
send me an empty DVD, I can send you a complete snapshot of all packages
(for the DVD Version, I need TWO DVDs for sources). But, since you
already have most of them, it's WAY faster if you try to fetch them from
the locations mentioned above, rather than waiting for me answering
> Some of you may think this is going too far,
> and then I can implicitly assume people
> will get source from Debian, Klaus Knopper
> or whatever. However, this is not the
> way the FSF are interpreting licensing
Sorry to say this, but in my legal understanding, the FSF cannot
"interpret" the GPL in other means that are legally correct and
applicable in each country. I believe there was a kind of
misunderstanding between Mr. Turner and the MEPIS project. The FSF
clearly hasn't ruled out a vaild option given in the GPL for source
distribution of MEPIS - otherwise I would be the first one to file a
complaint against the FSF because of a possible GPL violation. ;-)
But apart from that, you are right. Since YOU distribute the binary
actively, the GPL says that recipients can get the sources from YOU
(i.e. it is your obligation to make sure that one of the three
possibilities of the GPL §3 are met). Whether you copy and send out the
sources yourself, create a mirror, offer source CDs, or let someone else
do this for you at no higher cost than for physical copying (...) is up
to you. Just make sure that people are given the sources they request,
if they do resuest them.
> So far as I can see, people
> who have got a CD from me are entitled
> to come to *me* and ask for the source.
Yes, or rather, come to the responsible person for the distribution
location he got the CD/DVD from. And again, YOU have a choice of one or
more of _3_ options in the GPL to give them access to the sources, and
there is also a "4th option", namely, someone else does this for you
because you have a service agreement with a third party that is willing
to send the sources to "any third party" like mentioned in §3b.
In all doubt cases: Read the GPL as primary source for all legal
questions, it is the binding contract between YOU and the PROGRAM
AUTHOR/DISTRIBUTOR. Not the FSF. The FSF write the license, but it does
not mean they can change a valid license agreement at their will, and
they are surely not planning to do this.
Occasionally, someone from the FSF asks me for a source DVD of Knoppix
to check if I really comply to the "written statement" option (hey,
Vincent! ;-). Very few other people do, most of them companies who use
Knoppix as base for their own product, and who want to offer the same
"written agreement" option that I do. Most developers find it quicker to
get the CURRENT sources directly from the original Debian mirrors,
though they ARE entitled to old sources exactly matching the binaries of
the CD, directly from me, following §3 of the GPL.